Saturday, February 27, 2010

Q&A - Canning Broth

Question: Do you know how to can broth? If I want to can turkey broth, for example, do I pressure can it like I would chicken meat? I know you can buy canned broth, and thought it would be an alternative to freezing it. - Lisa

I asked my Mom to answer Lisa's question since she has lots more experience then me in canning broth. And in lots of other things!

Her answer: I can broth with a pressure canner at 10 lb pressure for 25 minutes for quarts. Check your pressure canner manual for more information.

If you have access to meaty beef bones, you can make some great broth. I fill an electric roaster with bones. I pour 4 quart of tomato juice and 3 quart of water over the bones. An acid ingredient like tomato juice is important to cook out the nutrients from the bones. Cook on low heat (200 degrees or less) for 8 hours or overnight. If you don't have an electric roaster, a large roasting pan in a low oven will work just as well. Remove the bones and strain the broth. Freeze or can the wonderful rich broth for great soups!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Artisan Breads Every Day - Sticky Buns

Another recipe review from Peter Reinhart's new book.

Sticky buns are the ultimate comfort food to me! There is just something about a gooey lick-your-fingers sticky bun that just speaks of a mother's love. I hope my children can enjoy the same comfortable vibes some day when they eat warm baked bread!

This dough was simple to make a easy to work with. I replaced three cups of the white flour with whole wheat flour, added 2 T vital gluten and increased the milk to a total of 2 1/4 cup.

The only confusion I had on this recipe was placing in pans. The recipe specifies that it makes 24 buns and they should be placed in two round cake pans. I could only fit half the buns in the two pans. I put the remainder of the pans in a 9 x 13 pan. They rose beautifully and I was quite glad I had not crowded them any closer.

I used the recipe for the creamy caramel slurry which was the perfect finishing touch. My husband thought there could be a little more "goo". Of course, since I spread the slurry in more pans then the recipe specified, maybe I should have doubled the slurry.

In any account, they were delicious. Whether they beat my mom's sticky bun recipe is still undecided. I asked Ed which he liked better and he said he wouldn't know unless he ate my mom's buns again. I can see where that is going! :-) Maybe I shouldn't be surprised that he is the biggest fan of this blog!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Question: Broody Hen

I am hoping some of you have some answers for a new chicken raiser!

When we bought our chicks last spring, we chose breeds known for being good mothers in hopes of having some success in raising our own chicks.

This week one of our hens has taken over a nesting box. I've never seen a chicken sit like her. She is completely flattened herself against the nesting box floor. Is this a sign of being broody?

Our hens are quite tame and if one is in the nesting box when I check the eggs, I just lift them up to peer underneath to check for eggs. Usually they take the hint and jump out.

This one is different. She isn't mean and doesn't peck but she also doesn't move. I slide my hand under her, take her eggs and she just sits there and glares at me.

Maybe it is mean to take her eggs. I'm not sure what to do. If she is going to sit on eggs, I'd like to give her enough eggs to make it worth her while that would all begin incubating at the same time.
Should we move her to a new spot where she isn't disturbed by all the other hens and rooster? Or would moving her to an unfamiliar spot, even in the same building, confuse her?

I welcome any advice, personal experiences, or ideas! Thanks!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Artisan Breads Every Day - Soft Rye Sandwich Bread

Another great recipe from Peter Reinhart's newest cookbook, Artisan Breads Every Day.

We love rye bread! Russian Black bread is one of Ed's all time favorites. I loved how this recipe turned out. It was so soft with a nice even crumb and rose spectacularly.

This rye bread has a very light flavor and if you do not particularly care for a strong rye bread, you would love this bread. There is not a lot of rye flour in the recipe (about 1/5 of the total flour volume) and most of the dark color comes from the addition of cocoa powder.

For rye lovers like ourselves, we would have preferred a deeper "rye" flavor. Maybe the next time I will experiment with adding a little more rye flour. And there will be a "next time"! This was a great bread!

I wanted to make multicolor loaves. I made two batches, one dark and one light and did a four strand braid like the book demonstrates for challah.

I had never made a braided loaf before but I loved the result! I made four loaves and baked two in bread pans and two as free standing loaves. Both turned out but I preferred the loaves baked in pans.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Free downloads of Artisan Breads Every Day recipes

If you want to try some of the recipes from Artisan Breads Every Day by Peter Reinhart, I just discovered the book's publisher is sharing some downloads of a few of the recipes. Try them out!

One of the recipes is for the Pain a l'Ancienne Rustic Bread which has been one of my favorites!

Enjoy some baking!

Artisan Breads Every Day - Soft Sandwich Bread

Still slowly working my way through Peter Reinhart's newest book one recipe at a time.

I cheated on this recipe.

Like most of the recipes in Artisan Breads Every Day, this soft sandwich bread recipe utilizes a cold fermentation to enhance the flavor. The dough is mixed one day, and then refrigerated overnight or for several days.

But I didn't have an extra day. I wanted to bake this bread to give for some gifts. That evening. And it worked!

This recipe makes two large loaves. Since I was giving it as gifts, I decided to use my tiny loaf pans. I only had three pans. After kneading the dough, I divided it in half. One half I formed into three small loaves and allowed to rise on the counter. The other half I placed in the fridge to do a slow cold rise.

After baking the first three little loaves and emptying the pans, I removed the other dough from the fridge and formed them into three more little loaves.

I made this recipe according to the directions as far as ingredients. When rolling out the dough, I did generously sprinkle cinnamon sugar before rolling up the loaf for a spiraled cinnamon loaf.

The loaves rose beautifully. I gave five of the loaves away, but of course, I had to slice one myself just to make sure it was as good as it looked! It was! This dough would make a wonderful dinner roll.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake


I seem to be on a chocolate kick recently. I will post about something else eventually, promise! Meanwhile, I wanted to share our Valentine's Day dessert - just in case your sweetheart loves chocolate and peanut butter as much as mine does!

I usually make a cheesecake for Valentine's Day and have made many different recipes. I found this recipe in Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Not only was this recipe simpler then many I've tried - this cheesecake didn't form a huge crack down the center like most of my cheesecakes do.

And this recipe is RICH! Decadent would describe it well. To me it tastes like a huge Reeses Peanut Butter cup,which I love so much that Ed gave me a whole bag of them this week!

And peanut butter is good for you right? So this cheesecake can also go under the category of health food! At least I'm hoping!

A springform pan allows cheesecake slices to be removed easily. But if you don't own one, use a round or square cake pan instead. No one will care if their piece is a little squashed, as long as a piece of this cheesecake arrives on their plate.
18 chocolate graham cracker squares, finely crushed (1 1/2 cups)
(or use regular graham crackers if that is what you have on hand, like me)
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 T sugar
2 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 T milk
peanuts to garnish, optional

Combine cracker crumbs, melted butter, and 2 T sugar. Press in bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

Beat 1 package of cream cheese until smooth. Beat in peanut butter and 1/4 cup sugar until combined. Fold in one lightly beaten egg. Set aside.

In saucepan, stir chocolate over low heat until melted. Remove from heat. Cube remaining package of cream cheese and add to chocolate. Stir to combine. Stir in milk. Fold in 2 lightly beaten eggs. Spread half of chocolate mixture into pan. Carefully spread with peanut butter mixture over chocolate. Spread remaining chocolate over top.

Bake at 300 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until top is set. Center will look wet. Cool and chill at least four hours before serving.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Chocolate Waffles

At our house, we are fanatic about anything chocolate. And we make waffles at least once a week. Chocolate waffles seem like the best of both worlds, but I've never been sure if they were dessert or breakfast.

Valentine's Day was the perfect opportunity to try this recipe from Cuisine magazine. It was the first time I've made waffles with yeast. They were so light and airy and I loved that I could do most of the preparation the night before. Even with beating the egg whites, this recipe came together very quickly - a necessity for Sunday mornings!

These waffles would be wonderful with fresh strawberries and cream. Since fresh berries are several months away, I made a sauce with frozen berries and added a dollop of homemade yogurt.

The conclusion? This recipe is definitely a keeper! Easy to make and SO yummy! Maybe too rich for an everyday breakfast, but perfect for a special occasion! I can see this becoming a birthday breakfast tradition! These would be wonderful for dessert with ice cream and cherries!

Want to give it a try?

Chocolate Waffles

1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups milk
3 eggs, separated

The night before (or 8 hours before) mix together flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and yeast. In saucepan, melt butter and chocolate chips over low heat. Stir milk into chocolate , then stir into flour mixture. Cover batter and let sit on counter overnight.

In morning, heat waffle iron and separate eggs. Whisk yolks into the batter. Whip whites to soft peaks with hand mixer. Gently fold whites into batter. Do not over mix. A few lumps or white streaks are fine. Cook in hot iron. Enjoy!

Strawberry Sauce

1 quart berries
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
4 T cornstarch

Cook until thick.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Baked Chocolate Cake Doughnuts

Some of you asked, so here it is - the recipe for chocolate cake doughnuts.

Last year on Fausnaught Day, I shared a baked doughnut recipe. Surprisingly, that recipe has been the most popular recipe on this blog. I had no idea that so many people were looking for a baked doughnut.

Don't expect the same flavor in a baked doughnut as a deep fried doughnut. To me, baked doughnuts are more like a cinnamon bun or breakfast bread. And that isn't all that bad! Smeared with glaze or frosting, they don't last long at our house, whatever they resemble! So even if they are not going to give Dunkin Donuts competition, baked doughnuts are easy to make, better for you, and my children love them!

My husband's favorite doughnuts are chocolate cake doughnuts. This week I made this variation to a recipe I found on line. They were so simple, didn't even use yeast, and were chocolate! And anything chocolate is a winner at our house! Even if they weren't the same as fried doughnuts, they didn't last more then 24 hours here!

Baked Chocolate Cake Doughnuts

1 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
4 T butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk
2 cup whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cup white flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 T baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Beat sugar, butter and eggs until light and foamy. Stir in milk. Stir in remaining ingredients just until blended. Batter will look like a thick cake batter. Cover and chill in fridge for 1 hour or overnight. Turn dough onto a well-floured surface and pat to 1/2 inch thick. Cut with doughnut cutter. (Or cookie cutter.) Place on greased baking sheet and bake at 350 for 10 - 12 minutes. (Or if you prefer, deep fry in oil! I won't tell!) When cool, dip the tops in fudge glaze. Or roll in powdered sugar.

Fudge Glaze:
Melt 1/4 cup butter in saucepan. Remove from heat and whisk 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/3 cup cocoa powder until combined. Gradually whisk 2 T hot water. If glaze thickens add a few more drops of hot water. If you prefer a mocha glaze add a little espresso powder.

Makes about 2 dozen doughnuts.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Artisan Breads Every Day - Soft Pretzels

Yet another recipe from Peter Reinhart's newest book.

We love soft pretzels around here. Especially in winter evenings. I have a favorite recipe for soft pretzels. They are super good but seem to take a lot of steps. The biggest bother is cooking them in soda water before baking. I thought soft pretzels just needed this extra step and didn't think to eliminate it.

But the soft pretzel recipe in "Artisan Breads Every Day" is much simpler. After forming the pretzels, they are dipped in warm water which contains soda dissolved in it and immediately baked.

Like most of the recipes in this book, this one calls for an overnight rise in the fridge. A great step to get most of the preparation done ahead of time - but bad for spur of the moment "I'm hungry for soft pretzels." Peter claims the delayed fermentation enhances the flavor and these pretzels were definitely yummy!

As usual, I added some whole wheat flour. Just can't stand using all white flour - and we actually prefer the flavor of whole wheat. I replaced 2 cups of white flour with whole wheat, added 2 T vital gluten and increased the water by 1/4 cup.
I love how puffy these pretzels got. Unlike my other recipe, these were tasty the next day. My daughter turned pretzel making into some letter practice! We'll be making this recipe again!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Let it snow!

In recent years, we have not had much snow here. Last year we didn't have enough snow to go sledding even once.
This winter is out to change that! This week alone, we've had at least two feet of snow. With all the wind and drifting it is impossible to measure, so we may have had closer to three feet.
The best part - Ed stayed home! He always has such fun ideas! Like this snow fort!
I enjoyed a walk in the snow - then scurried inside for the rest of the day! This is when I love being a homemaker!
The smells of beef barbecue in the crockpot, fresh cornmeal rolls,
and homemade chocolate cake donuts fill the house.
A few tiny green seedling leaves remind us that spring will come eventually! Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the view! (Can you tell by my exuberance that I wasn't the one who had to shovel us out?)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Resting in Life's Chaos

"For as he thinketh in his heart so he is." Proverbs 23:7

This verse has been on my mind a lot recently. I've been trying to deliberately think about what is going through my mind. Often I find a chorus of "I'm so frustrated, or annoyed, or tired, or...." While it all may be true and I may think I have a good excuse for frustrated emotions -listening to the broken record repeat itself in my head sure did nothing to improve my mindset.

I've been deliberately (I'm learning to love that word) choosing to focus my mind on something good. My friend, Paula put it so good in a story she told last night, "choosing to laugh, then finding you want to laugh"!

I'm not really talking about some sort of "power of positive thinking". But rather "bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (11 Corinthians 10:5)

A very practical step that has helped me is listening to good music. Amazing how a cd of hymns can calm me and spread to the rest of the household.

Recently I printed off the words to a hymn I'd like to memorize and posted it by my kitchen sink. I try to sing through the verses at least once a day and find myself humming the tune the rest of the day. I love the words to this hymn and will share them below. I just can't sing about resting in the love of Christ without it affecting my attitude!

I'd love to hear how other busy moms keep their focus on God throughout their day.

Jesus I Am Resting, Resting
by Jean S. Pigott 1876

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.

Refrain

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.

O, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
O, how marvelous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Belov├Ęd,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.

Refrain

Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets, supplies its every need,
Compasseth me round with blessings:
Thine is love indeed!

Refrain

Ever lift Thy face upon me
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting ’neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory,
Sunshine of my Father’s face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting,
Fill me with Thy grace.

Refrain

Monday, February 1, 2010

Enjoying God's World - February Plans

A new month! And time to share our February nature study plans.

Like last month, this is just a list of goals and "possibilities". I really doubt we'll get this all done. You can read our goals here.
We enjoyed a week or two of milder weather in January and it was great to see the children enjoying outdoor play again. The photos in this post are from a walk at our favorite park.

Now we are back to cold weather again when hibernation sounds like a good idea to me!
February plans
  • Examine our ground hog hole on Groundhog Day (Feb 2).
  • Discuss the groundhog's changes during hibernation.
  • Explore our neighbor's frozen pond.
  • Identify some trees without leaves.
  • Talk about how important trees are to animals.
  • Make a rubbing of tree bark.

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